With the number of non-religious Americans growing every year, you’d think they’d have no problem finding a therapist who doesn’t suggest Jesus or Bible-reading as part of the road to healing, but that’s not the case at all. In many areas, Christian counselors — who may have limited scientific training — are the only ones available.
Angela Almeida does an excellent job in a piece for The Atlantic describing the problem for atheists seeking secular, evidence-based therapists and the solutions that have cropped up to deal with the situation.
While there are obviously professional Christian counselors who don’t proselytize to their clients, there are also faith-based therapists who don’t have professional degrees or special certifications. Almeida writes about the need for honesty and transparency in what therapists provide:
That is why programs like [the Secular Therapy Project] don’t intend to hamper faith-based therapy, but rather, draw a more distinct line for people in search of secular help. In any therapeutic relationship, regardless of belief, there is a certain level of betrayal in an absence of transparency. When a patient confides their innermost thoughts with a therapist only to later discover after many sessions (and dollars) that they are completely unfit for one another, the experience can be damaging.
That’s why the Secular Therapy Project — which has more than 10,000 registered counselors in the database — is such an important tool. That’s why groups like Grief Beyond Belief provide such a valuable service for those suffering the loss of a loved one.
Atheists needs these services as much as anybody else. But it’d be nice if the people helping us understood that we’re looking for real, practical solutions, not magical words or mythology.
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